04 August 2012

a visit with Mimmo & Silvana

This post is for Kara, who I think is still reading this blog from time-to-time.


We stopped in unexpectedly on Mimmo and Silvana the day before we took the ferry over to Ischia. That morning we had hiked to the rim of Mt. Vesuvius and, after a lunch at Trattoria da Biagio in Arco Felice, we headed on up to the house. We were delighted to find both of them there and secretly relieved that they insisted that we spend the rest of the day as their guests, joining them for dinner in the garden in the end. And that is exactly what we did.

Some updates:
Mimmo is now retired from his position as a magistrate, and they both spend more time in Pozzuoli than in Rome or Catanzaro these days. He is now involved with an organization or  committee or group responsible for the restoration and upkeep of the Casina Vanvitelliana on Lago Fusaro. Mimmo and Silvana have moved into the "Kara" apartment, freeing up the top apartment for his sister and her two Ukranian nurses. The Contessa (Silvana's mother) passed away recently, and shortly afterwards, his ailing sister was brought from Rome to take her place, in a way.  On the day we visited, her Roman daughter-in-law (Mimmo's sister's son's wife) was visiting and played hostess to us in the garden near the pool most of the day as Silvana met with her physical therapist, who made a house call, and Mimmo met with others involved in his Lago Fusaro project.

Most of the other apartments have been sold, and only the "Elke" apartment is rented by someone affiliated with the base. No one seems very fond of her or the woman who came before her. The apartment directly under the garden is kept for guests.

Each time we visit the property, great changes have been made. The entire garden of "Kara" has been tiled and part of it serves as an entrance to an underground cantina and bar. This sits directly under the living room. Mimmo was quite proud of this project.

The main garden has been extended (to the north?) and now includes a stage with a dancing area and a magnificent pool. Every part of the garden is well designed and around each corner a surprise awaits, wether it's a fig tree grafted with four varieties of figs, a telescope for star gazing, or an unexpected view.

A second bathroom has been added near the pool area, as has a changing cabin and an outdoor kitchen. A full on, beautifully equipped kitchen has been installed in the area of the pizza oven. The entire production is based on the vision of Mimmo. I think he missed his calling as a landscape architect.

Mimmo seems to be in good health and his sense of humor remains the same. Silvana was recently in an automobile accident with a large truck near Arco Felice that ended with her car damaged beyond repair, and though she survived, she has been on a long road of recovery. She was still wearing a neck brace the day we stopped in on them. Even the annual birthday party was cancelled this year because she isn't feeling well enough. Out of respect, I didn't request any photos.

Ramses is still there, both both Luigi and Mooska have passed on. Do you remember Emme? The little white dog? Well, now there are SEVEN of them running around the house and garden. The dogs are kings and queens of the property, with complete adoration from both Mimmo and Silvana.

Antonio is no longer there either. I think I heard "piece of worthless crap" used to describe him when we inquired of his whereabouts. We counted a staff of seven. They call Mimmo "Presidente" ... I think in a joking, affectionate sort of way. Everyone (except for the ailing sister and one nurse) joined us at the table for dinner, even a couple of the dogs!

They both showered Madelyn with attention and affection and kiss after kiss after hug after kiss...over and over again. Initially she was taken aback by it, but it didn't take her long to warm up to someone telling her she is beautiful and exceptional over and over again...not to mention the invitation to enjoy the pool and the garden. So she swam in her undies, ran through the garden, played with the dogs, and sipped Coca Cola as we recovered from our hike. Luckily, she was on her best behavior the entire time...something that has not been happening much lately.

There were times that we both questioned our choice to leave this place as we are both certain that our connection with Mimmo and Silvana would have only strengthened over time. I believe that their warmth and openness is genuine, and I felt entirely at ease with them. (It helps, of course, that my Italian has improved since our last visit with them.) Also, the property is an oasis in the middle of the chaos that can overwhelm the area.

Of course they asked about you all, and I told them as much as I could. Silvana was both shocked and delighted to hear that you have three children now. It was very important to them that I let you know that they would love a visit from you and that you are welcome (maybe expected) to make use of the apartment under the garden. I think I'll send her a text soon letting her know! Of course, our door is open to you all at any time as well.

Pictures will follow here shortly.

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